Forested hilltops surround the land of Jabai. It is a quiet village that displays the beauty of a typical Palestinian village. Less than one thousand people live here and rely on farming to provide for their basic needs. Yet Israel’s policy of land confiscation and the nearby settlers of Beit Ein have disrupted what would be a serene place to call home. 
 
Land confiscation began in 1948 when Israel confiscated over 2,000 dunams of farmland. Later, another 5,000 dunams were taken to create a “natural zone,” which is now under the control of Israel. This natural zone was confiscated in order to become a natural, “green” space to preserve the environment. This land is now guarded by a checkpoint and where shepherds once brought their goats to graze now the goats and the farmers are forbidden. Many villagers now fear that if they try to access this land they may risk being shot.
 
In 2005, a checkpoint was placed at the entrance of Jabai. Not only does this result in additional harassment of the villagers, it also confiscated another 150 dunams of land for its construction. Again, this land had traditionally been grazing land for the community’s goats and now they are forbidden to access it. More than 1,500 olive trees were uprooted and destroyed in order to build the checkpoint and an additional 200 dunams were confiscated and isolated beyond the checkpoint.
 
It is not only checkpoints and natural zones that have stolen the land from the community of Jabai. The Beit Ein settlement, which is infamously known for violent attacks on neighboring Palestinian villages, stole another 5,500 dunams of Jabai land. In addition, a water pipe was recently laid for the settlement of Beit Ein. Marakot Water Company put the pipe through the nearby natural zone and also through a Palestinian farmer’s land. They promised that whatever land was dug up for the process, in addition to the trees that would be uprooted, would be restored, the trees replanted. The pipe is two-and-a-half meters in width. When the pipe was laid, the land within the natural zone was restored and replanted with trees; meanwhile the Palestinian farmer from Jabai was left with a large gaping track of pipe through his land. None of his 20 trees that were uprooted were replanted. 
 
The people of Jabai also face difficulties associated with most of their land existing within Area C of the Oslo Accords, meaning that they are not allowed to build on the land without Israel’s permission. When Jabai residents wanted to expand their school, the concrete truck was confiscated by the Israeli military and the residents of the village were threatened to stop construction. Only 500 dunams of the village land is build-able and most of that land is already crowded with houses. As such, some families are forced to build within Area C, risking demolition. Three houses in Jabai have been demolished and three more have pending demolition orders.
 
The people of Jabai have produced solid proof of their ownership of the land since 1934. They have tried to go to court to fight to keep their land but as one villager reports, “the attorney, the judge, and the theif are all one in the same person who is working to beat you.”
 
Before 1948, the village land consisted of 13,500 dunams of land. Now, the village has access to a mere 3,000 dunams of land, which continues to be threatened with confiscation on a daily basis. What might be a peaceful serene village has, for over sixty years, felt the harsh pressures of an illegal occupation. Without a change to the political situation, the people of Jabai will continue to be robbed of their land, economy, and freedom.
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